Thursday, 31 May 2018

There's a problem with Receiving Blog Comments on Blogger

Dear  Friends and Readers,

I have realised over the last couple of weeks that your comments are not being sent to my email inbox as they were previously. I was feeling a little bit disheartened about not receiving any comments from you and my apologies to anyone who has commented on my blog posts, as I haven't seen them to reply to as I always like to.

I even asked my friend Julie on Tropigal to send me a comment this morning, as a test, and as confirmation that there is a problem, I didn't receive it to my email as I should. Thanks Julie. :)

I have since been doing some reading on this and apparently many bloggers on Blogger are experiencing this problem. Some people are suggesting work arounds, and google promises a solution but it's been taking a while.

One work around is: "After you write a post and publish it, click like you want to write a comment - or you could even leave a simple TEST comment, then CLICK the NOTIFY ME of follow up comments box. You should then start getting all the comments sent to your email box. That might be ok for future posts but not previous ones where the comments have stopped or been sent."

I also went into the  Settings - Posts, Comments and Sharing, to check the Embedded box was ticked, and changed it to receive comments from User with Google Accounts. Google notified me that "Blogger no longer supports Open ID. Open ID comments & settings may have changed" so I changed the setting from Receive comments from Anyone - incl. Anon. users to User with Google Accounts.  I hope that was the right thing to do. Time will tell I suppose.

However since all of that, I have found some new comments in the Comments Awaiting Moderation section which normally I don't need to check because they are sent automatically to my Email account for moderation.

I'm sorry this story is so long winded, but could you please let me know if you are also experiencing this problem or have found another solution. Gosh I feel like I am problem solving back in the work force:)

Also sorry to the wonderful bloggers I normally follow and comment on. We have been back from holidays for nearly a month I think, and I can't believe that I am still catching up on some things including the routine of reading some of your blogs. I will get there.

Thanks for your patience with this and I hope to receive a comment from you soon. If for whatever reason you find that you can't comment, I have setup an email contact box on the right hand side of my blog which you can also contact me from. For now after I publish this, I am going to click the NOTIFY ME box and also check the Comments Moderation section from here on in. Hope that works.

Bye for now

Pauline xx

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Eggplant Antipasto with Onions, Oregano, and Parsley




Italian eggplant antipasto is designed to captivate us at the first bite, and this dish fulfills it's promise. I love Italian food, and am always looking for different recipes with eggplant, which grow so well here in the Tropics. I used some fresh white homegrown eggplant which I was given from our friend's garden. I haven't seen these white ones in the supermarket but I did see some seedlings at Bunnings the other day which may interest you.  However eggplant self seed so easily from the compost to the garden if you can find some.

The white eggplant are perfect for this recipe as they aren't as bitter as the large purple ones can be, and they soak up all of the wonderful flavours of the herbs, the olive oil, the garlic  and the vinegar. The eggplant are prepared by boiling them, a different approach and so easy, which means they soften nicely and some of the seeds are also discarded in the water.


This recipe is taken from Marcellina's Marcellinaincucina blog, and when  I saw it  I had to make it. Thanks to Marcellina for this original Italian recipe.She has some wonderful Italian recipes on her blog.

Serve this with some crusty bread, and you have a match made in heaven. I used some of my latest sourdough loaf to serve it with.

Ingredients:
Serves 8

3 large eggplant cut into 2 cm chunks
2 onions sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic chopped finely
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
salt
Freshly ground pepper

Method:

Cook the chopped eggplant in a large pot of salted water for about 5 minutes. You may need to push the eggplant down with a spoon because the chunks will float as they cook.

When the eggplant is cooked, drain well, and transfer to a bowl and cover.


Warm the olive oil in a frying pan.

Add the onions. garlic, and oregano and fry gently until softened and aromatic. Cook long and slow for about 15 minutes.


Add the red wine vinegar. Stir to combine.

Pour mixture over the cooked eggplant along with the parsley and toss gently to combine.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Preparing Antipasto can be as simple as opening a bottle, however it is expensive to buy and preparing your own like this is quite simple and so delicious, so I urge you to give it a try.  This Eggplant Antipasto keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, which means there is always a quick snack available or an antipasto platter easily assembled. Allow to stand at least an hour before serving but best made the day before you plan to eat it.



Bye for now

Pauline xx


Sunday, 27 May 2018

The River Rock Cafe, Gorge Road, Finch Hatton


Finch Hatton Gorge is a scenic 45 minute drive inland from Mackay in North Queensland. On the way there, we travelled through lush canefields, across a few very low running and clear creeks, and through untouched rainforest before entering an area which is as green and tropical as you will find anywhere. 


The air here is so clean and fresh and crisp. Mackay residents regularly swarm to the Gorge to swim in the large, beautiful waterhole as an escape from the Summer heat. In Winter, it is too cool for us to swim, however the European tourists and the southern Grey Nomads still have it on their list of destinations when travelling North.  I don't do many promotions of local businesses in and around Mackay, however I was so impressed with the River Rock Cafe that I thought I would tell you all about it and encourage you to go there for lunch or breakfast.

We had arranged to have lunch with our wonderful Eungella friends, Ann and Wayne, and formerly our neighbours, at the  River Rock Cafe, located in the heart of the Gorge area. Swimming definitely wasn't on our agenda, we'll save that for a Summer's Day. It was all about eating, soaking up the scenery,  and catching up. 

Enjoying lunch on the timber deck overlooking the rainforest, and listening to the sounds of the birds and the beautiful creek just below.
The food was delicious, simple, beautifully presented, and not a chip in sight. Very refreshing. The hosts, Tracey and Stephen made us feel very welcome, and Stephen came over for a chat in between courses and brought us up to date on the progress and the happenings at Finch Hatton. Of course we were all ears being locals.

Nearby rainforest


Beautiful view of the rainforest creek from the timber deck
 The Main Courses were all delicious, and I was extremely happy that I ordered the fish as it was perfectly cooked and tasted so fresh. Local Reef Fish is hard to beat. It was just procured from Mackay Fish Retailer Debbie's Seafood that morning.

Locally caught Fresh Red throat Emperor and salad from Debbie's Seafood, Mackay. Delicious - $22.00

Open Steak Sandwich - $22.00

Pumpkin and feta tart - $22.00

Potato and Chorizo Salad - $22.00

Pancakes with maple syrup

Classic Caramel Tart. 

View from the Timber Deck


If you can see yourself living and working in this environment and enjoy cooking and meeting people, then the good news is that the business is for sale.



View of the restaurant. Photo courtesy of Tracey and Stephen

A Monitor Lizard basking in the sun in the grounds. Photo courtesy of Tracey and Stephen

There's plenty of room for everybody on the large timber deck

 Bookings for the restaurant can be made on 4958 3281 and the cafe is open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday, from 11am - 2 pm, although I think we may have stayed later than that. This is a wonderful spot to take visitors to if you live nearby. Just drop in for coffee and cake if you wish.


Self contained Cabins are on site if you wish to stay overnight and Dinner can be delivered to your cabin. This is the perfect location and opportunity for a relaxing getaway. If you are travelling to Mackay, take the drive to Finch Hatton. You will be so pleased you did. The address is 730 Gorge Road, Finch Hatton, Qld. 4756. 

(All meals were independently paid for and all opinions are my own.)

Best wishes and I hope you enjoy a good week.

Pauline x

Friday, 25 May 2018

Shaksuka with Eggs for a Weekend Breakfast or Brunch



Shaksuka is a popular dish in Israel, although it is supposed to have originated from Tunisia in North Africa. I ordered an Italian version of this dish for breakfast, or something very close to it, in the Yarra Valley at a wonderful little Italian cafe in village Healesville, called Essenza. It is only an hour from Melbourne. We had just packed up the tent and the car, and ventured into Healesville to buy some breakfast, and found a long, corridor style cafe with a very inviting and  interesting decor. Seating was also available outside on the footpath. If you are into having fun with words and pronunciations, Shaksuka is pronounced "shahk-SHOO-kah".

The Italian version of "Shaksuka" at Essenza was called Uova in Padella, meaning Eggs in the Pan, was baked in a terracotta ramekin, had pancetta and lima beans added as well, and it was absolutely delicious. It is one of their signature dishes. We were pretty hungry by then. Even though Shaksuka is different by origin, it inspired me to make this tomato based  Middle Eastern version of poached eggs. Unfortunately I didn't have my blogging hat on and didn't have my camera with me at Essenza, so these photos of my Shakshuka will have to do.

Ingredients:

Serves 2-4 depending on the number of eggs each person would like.

You will need one medium sized ovenproof frypan to bake these in the oven

 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
1  red capsicum, deseeded and sliced
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 mild long red chilli, sliced finely
1 teaspoon sugar
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Tasty grated cheese

TIP: (Substitute 1 x 400g can of cannellini beans drained and rinsed for a can of tomatoes for a more hearty meal)
For a more wholesome dinner dish and to add more "hidden" vegetables, also add 1 small grated zucchini and 1 grated carrot or 1 finely chopped eggplant and cook with the capsicum about 5 minutes.


  • Heat the oil  in a frying pan and cook the onion for 3 minutes until soft.
  • Stir in the fresh chilli, garlic and capsicum.  
  • Add the paprika, cumin, ground coriander, and sugar and cook until the fragrance of the herbs becomes quite aromatic. 
  • Preheat your oven to 180 deg. C. if you are baking the eggs in the oven.
  • Add the cans of tomato to the frypan. Cook, stirring often for 15 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly. Season to your taste with salt and ground black pepper..
  • Remove the pan from the heat. The tomato mixture can now rest in the pan until you are ready to cook the eggs or start cooking the eggs as follows in an ovenproof pan in the oven or in a frypan on the stove. I prefer the oven, it's easier.
  • Add 4 large evenly spaced indents into the mixture and crack an egg into each indent.
  • Sprinkle grated cheese and some chopped mint or parsley over the tomato.
  • Reduce the hotplate to low.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and cook until the egg yolks are to your liking. Semi hard yolks will take up to 8 minutes.

This dish can  also be baked in the oven in individual ramekins if you have them, by adding some of the tomato mixture to each ramekin and then adding the eggs. Or once the eggs, cheese and mint are added to the tomato mixture as explained above,  place the ovenproof fry pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

This is delicious for breakfast, but my preference is to serve it for brunch on the weekend. I also plan to make it for Sunday night dinner one week and think I will add a chopped eggplant to the tomato sauce for extra flavour and texture.

This dish is healthy, full of flavour and not expensive to make. I have made a quantity of the tomato mixture to freeze so that next time I want to make it for brunch I can just defrost the tomato base, and add the eggs and make it very quickly. Serve it with Sourdough toast.

Just something different for you to try on the weekend. Have you ever eaten Shaksuka or Uova in Padella?

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for dropping by.

Pauline.


Thursday, 17 May 2018

Sweet Chilli Jam



I returned home from our 3 month trip to Tasmania to an abundant crop of mild red chillies growing on some self propagated Chilli bushes and also 3 mature Birds Eye chilli bushes had self seeded and grown in that time, probably courtesy of the birds dropping the seeds. I am amazed how some birds just love the hottest birds eye chillies. No doubt they are attracted by the red colour and the small edible size, I wonder if they regret this choice later.

After a week, Mr. HRK was getting a bit thingy about all of the chillies on the bushes and I realised that a couple of the bushes really needed to be removed. So Waste Not Want Not, I made this Sweet Chilli Jam, which I have been wanting to do for ages.



This recipe is basically taken from the iconic Down to Earth blog by Rhonda Hetzel. I have changed the quantities and ingredients to suit the quantities I had to use. Just halve the quantities for a smaller batch.

Ingredients and equipment: 
(A large batch)

30 medium mild red chillies (or any combination of other mild chillies you might have),including seeds
8 small Birds Eye chillies (very hot), including seeds
2 red capsicums
4 large brown onions
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 cups of white sugar
1 cup of white cooking vinegar
1 cup water
juice of 2 lemons or limes
2 teaspoons fish sauce
Pair of plastic gloves for hand protection
7-8 medium jam jars for this recipe

METHOD:

Wash the chillies and dry them.
Have your food processor ready to use on your kitchen bench.
(At this stage I generally have my small jam bottles on a short cycle in the dishwasher so that they will be sterilised and nice and hot when the jam is ready and I can just ladle in the hot, sweet and spicy finished jam. Or you may prefer to have them washed in soapy water, and ready to sterilise in a warm oven.)

I took all of the chillies, capsicums, and onions, 2 cutting boards and a couple of bowls outside onto my patio, made a cup of tea, and then sat down in a comfortable chair at our outside table and started chopping, enjoying the beautiful day outside.



Top and tail the chillies, and don't bother removing the seeds, except in the capsicums.
I chopped them all up roughly outside.



Place the chopped chillies, capsicums, onions and garlic in your food processor and blitz until they are chopped into small pieces. Because I made a double batch, I needed to do this in two stages which worked well.



Add the contents of your food processor to a large saucepan, add the sugar and other liquid ingredients.



Bring the jam slowly to the boil, which will dissolve the sugar. This is where you test the taste to check if it is too hot or not sweet enough. Very carefully take out a teaspoon of the jam, taste it, being careful not to burn your mouth, and if it is too hot and spicy, add another chopped capsicum. Or if it's not spicy enough for you, add another hot chilli. I am careful not to make mine too chilli hot now, as some of it will be gifts for friends, and some of them can't tolerate hot chilli.





Let the jam cook on a rolling boil for 45 minutes. To quote Rhonda from Down to Earth, "a rolling boil is when the jam boils and even when you put a spoon in it to stir it, it continues boiling, but won't boil over". Very important.



After 45 minutes, the jam should be the right consistency.

Ladle it into the hot jars, put the lids on straight away and tighten them.

Leave them out on the kitchen bench to completely cool, label, and then store them in your pantry. The vinegar and sugar will act as very efficient preservatives. The jam should last for about 6 months, and I generally give about half of it away and make some more.

I always place a bottle in my frig straight away to use, as I will have already tasted it.

I generally hear quite a few of the jar lids popping over the next few hours, ensuing the jars are well sealed.

This batch was just how we like it, suitable to eat as a condiment at anytime of day, with the taste of chilli but not too much heat. Add more Bird's Eye chillies if you like it really hot.

It's hard to believe it's Friday again already. I hope you have all had a good week,  and have some nice plans for the weekend. I hope to get out and do some walking, the  hardest part is just walking out the door, don't you think?

Best wishes

Pauline



Sunday, 13 May 2018

Apple and Sour Cream Cake Slice





I had a busy day planned and I needed a slice on the table for morning tea. I've been wanting to make this one ever since Mr. HRK's sister Suzanne, who lives in Toowoomba baked it for afternoon tea for us. We stayed for a couple of nights with Sue on our way through at the beginning of our long road trip, only a few months ago. It was so delicious, not overly sweet, and very much appreciated after a long drive that day, so I wrote down the recipe for when we came home. I'll admit that I had to call Sue when I decided to make it to clarify a few finer details, and voila, here it is.

I don't take many shortcuts with cooking now, however using a bought cake mix for the biscuit base does the trick here. Sue used a gluten free one for hers which made no difference to the result. I was quite intrigued by this recipe because of the stages involved.

When Julie and Dave arrived we ate it warm from the oven after leaving it to sit for 15 minutes for the topping to firm up, so it was slightly messier to slice, which doesn't matter at all. It still tasted great.  However the following day after sitting in the frig overnight, the biscuit base had stayed crisp, and it was very easy to slice. Mr. HRK loves it.

This could also be eaten as an easy and warm dessert for the family.

Just and have faith, and follow this recipe and I assure you this will work.

Let's Cook:

Turn on your oven to moderate or 180 deg.

Base Ingredients:

1 packet vanilla cake mix (gluten free if necessary) I used a White Wings packet mix. (Disregard cooking instructions on the cake mix box, and follow this recipe adding coconut and butter to the dry cake mix.)
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup or 4 tablespoons melted butter

Topping Ingredients:

400-440 ml tub sour cream depending on brand
385-400g can of pie apple fruit slices
nutmeg

Method:

Mix together the ingredients for the base in a bowl.
Spread into a well greased rectangular non-stick slice tin.
Bake for 20 minutes in a moderate oven.


Remove tray from the oven and leave the oven turned on.
Mix the sour cream with the pie apple in another bowl, and spread onto the biscuit base.



Sprinkle with nutmeg, and some flaked almonds if you like however this isn't essential.

Bake for another 20 minutes at 180 deg. C or in a moderate oven.



You know, whilst I try to cook mostly from scratch, I realise it just isn't feasible for a lot of people. I really started thinking seriously about this when we were travelling and staying with our family and friends along the way. How do families with both adults or parents working manage to get a good meal on the table each night, or produce something special on the weekend without resorting to taking short cuts occasionally? I know I did when I was working. I think that including fast foods too much in our diet  is where the real danger lies to our health. So I am pursuing inventive and delicious ways of including fruit and vegetables into our diets and those of our children and grandchildren, and perhaps some partners and husbands LOL:) Watch this space. Any ideas?

I hope you can try this slice and I would love to hear from you as to how it goes.

Hoping you all have a fabulous week.

Best wishes

Pauline




Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Our 3 month camping trip to Tasmania from Northern Queensland




Mexican Mince with Avocado and Coriander was one of the easy and delicious meals I cooked during our road trip.

Go straight to recipe here.

Hello dear readers, and it's great to be home after a 3 month road trip, although it still seems strange not to be "on the road again" each or every second day. It is also nice to be back in our own bed and my own kitchen.

I thought I would do a little review of some of the things we learnt along the way and some tips for next time, if you are interested in taking such a trip. We covered a lot of kilometres and visited a lot of towns and I'm also testing myself to see how many names I can recall, without resorting to looking at the map. I won't be mentioning everywhere we visited though in this small space:)

We left home at the end of January, with our Toyota Fortuna packed to the hilt, and a pod on the top carrying various camping gear items. We are now home, whereas many southerners are only just beginning their trip North to avoid the southern cold weather. Mother's Day to Father's Day seems to be the time frame for southern travellers to travel to North Queensland and over to the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and through the Red Centre.

Accommodation:

Our main accommodation  as our primary place of residence was our tent, a Black Wolf 240, 2.4 metres square. Plenty of room for us and light to carry and assemble. I can hear you all gasping from here,  but Mr. HRK is passionate about camping and it is good fun. We began purchasing all of our equipment online from Snowys Outdoor camping shop in Adelaide a couple of years ago, and from whom we have received excellent service. We also visited them when we were in Adelaide on this trip and topped up on a few items and it was great to visit the store that we had only previously visited online. They were all very friendly and helpful.

Essential to us at our age is a good nights sleep and to own very comfortable bedding, and many options are also available from Snowys. However we never camped for more than a week at a time without then staying in a Holiday Park cabin for a couple of nights, or with relatives and good friends or very occasionally in a motel.



The Bowra Hotel

We had a great pub meal here at the Bowra Hotel in early February when we stayed at Congarinni North near Macksville in NSW, with my cousin Myles and his lovely wife Katie and their beautiful family. We wouldn't have thought to visit this area if Myles hadn't invited us to stay, and it is a beautiful part of the world, with lots of  great beaches and surf.

Sometimes the weather forced alternative accommodation as well. A lot of tourists (primarily grey nomads) travel in caravans, mobile homes or camper trailers and mostly source free camps using wikicamps by the road along the way. No-one travelling in vans likes paying for accommodation. There are many free campsites along the road.  However camping in a tent means that in some Holiday Parks we could camp on the best sites available overlooking the ocean and beautiful scenery, which caravans couldn't access.
Camping at Penguin on the North West Coast of Tasmania overlooking the beautiful ocean.
Our simple campsite at Penguin


The most we paid for a tent site on our travels was $30.00 a night and the least was $5.00, at the Mt. Pleasant Showgrounds in the Barossa in South Australia.

Budget:

It helps to have a budget in mind, particularly when travelling for 3 months.  We aimed at budgeting an average of $140 a day, and did pretty well with mixing up accommodation, cooking most of our own food and staying away from the cities whenever possible. Finding parking for a 4 wheel drive with a pod on top in the large cities, proved to be almost impossible and also expensive.

 Fuel was the biggest expense for us on our trip. Our Toyota 4 wheel drive runs on diesel, which cost an average of $65 per day. It pays in the outback to keep the fuel tank as full as possible just in case the next service station has shut down or is just closed for the day, which does happen. We weren't towing a caravan or a camper trailer, although we did have a pod on top of the car, so our fuel consumption was very good compared to what some rigs on the highway must be paying for fuel. Hence the need probably for caravanners to find as many free camps as possible.

Our route:

 Our trip was a little longer than I thought it would be. We drove through the scenic Yarra Valley to Melbourne, caught the ferry to Devonport and then drove to Avoca to stay with friends, Lynne and Rob for a couple of nights with whom we sampled some very nice Tasmanian wines and foods in the area.

On board the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne and setting sail for Tasmania, with the Queen Mary 2 in port as well.
 Gala, Devils Corner and Stoney Vineyard/Domaine A, come to mind as vineyards we visited. There were more ha,ha. However Tasmanian wine is expensive to buy from the cellar door and better deals can be found at Dan Murphy outlets. Wine tasting though is a lot of fun, as long as we're not driving. After three wonderful weeks in Tasmania, we sailed back to Melbourne and stayed at the Coburg Holiday Park for a couple of nights in a cabin, saw the amazing Carole King story "Beautiful", at Her Majesty's Theatre, and then drove to Adelaide along the Great Ocean Road, camping at Apollo Bay. We flew to Perth and drove to Albany for Easter with Matthew, Myrtille and little Hugo and hired a cabin there. What a lovely place, and the Military Museum was a highlight to visit. Then we flew back to Adelaide, collected the car, and stayed with friends for a couple of nights. A highlight of that time being a train trip into the Melbourne markets and a delicious Japanese Bento box for lunch.

We camped in the Barossa for a couple of nights at the Showgrounds, under cover in the open shearing shed, as storms were brewing and the tent withstood 70 km winds. It was wild weather.

Our tent under cover and firmly secured to withstand the wild storm

Our friends, Joanne and Allan were camped there in their mobile home as well. If they hadn't been there we would have stayed in a motel that night because of the weather. The manager of the Park was so accommodating and couldn't do enough for us. I wasn't sorry to leave there though as the weather was cold, wet, windy and miserable.  However we survived and our tent with awnings securely fastened remained in the ground. Lots of delicious curries and local red wines with friends on the first night warmed us up nicely.

We drove through the Red Centre via underground and opal studded Coober Pedy to Uluru and the Olgas. Truly majestic country. The real outback camping started from here. Our destination was Cairns and the drive from Hughenden and along the Kennedy Development Road was highlighted by a camp overnight at Porcupine Gorge. The Gorge is beautiful, although the 1.2 km steep uphill walk back to the top to the campsite nearly killed me. A few days in Cairns with our daughter and her partner in their home, and then another enjoyable camping trip with them to Davies Creek National Park near Mareeba, on the Atherton Tablelands inland from Cairns, and then home to Mackay.


Davies Creek National Park falls




Cooking and Meals

Mexican Mince
This is a delicious mid-week meal for the whole family and so easy to make if you are camping or travelling with access to a stove and a fry pan.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 onions, finely chopped
500g beef mince
1 green capsicum, diced
4 rashes bacon, finely chopped
1 can of tomato soup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 cup macaroni or elbow pasta
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
finely chopped coriander
1 chopped ripe avocado

Let's cook:

Gently fry the onions in olive oil until transparent. Add the beef mince, white pepper and bacon and cook until mince is browned.

Meanwhile, boil the macaroni in a separate saucepan until cooked.

Add the celery, garlic, oregano, and capsicum to the beef sauce and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the tomato soup and water and simmer until mixture thickens and vegetables are cooked.

Add the macaroni to the beef mixture and mix well.

Serve with chopped avocado and coriander as a garnish.

I have also served this with some corn chips on the side. It's a crowd pleaser.

Our car frig was packed with lots of frozen meals that I had cooked in advance when we began our journey. This really works for us and takes the pressure off needing to carry lots of supplies, and cooking a meal at the end of a day of travelling. In most holiday parks and campsites, except for the remote Outback ones, there are excellent and well equipped Camp Kitchens available with a stove or a microwave for reheating. Many campers and young travellers and backpackers don't even bother carrying much cooking equipment now and rely on the camp kitchens. I soon learnt though that there are a lot of Chinese tourists travelling through the southern states and particularly along the Great Ocean Road in Mobile campers and they know how to cook up a storm in the camp kitchens. I was quite fascinated to often walk into a camp kitchen and find a Chinese family chopping and dicing lots of cabbage and numerous vegetables on the benches, and always with a pot of rice bubbling on the stove. They had some excellent equipment as well such as a small food processor for mincing meat, compact saucepans and the ubiquitous soy sauce. Not many could speak very good English, however  we often found a way to discuss what they were cooking. I loved that. Mostly they were gracious and stood aside so that others could use the stove etc. Discussing food overcomes a lot of obstacles, don't you think?

We topped up with fresh fruit and vegetables, milk etc along the way at Farmers Markets and roadside stalls. However fresh fruit and vegetables can't be taken over the border into most southern states and by the time we arrived in Melbourne most of our frozen meals were eaten anyway. It works well for us to stay in a cabin occasionally as I often then cook a large meal and freeze portions for later. Whilst we often shouted ourselves a good coffee in the morning when travelling, buying meals can be very expensive when travelling.

The fresh fruit and vegetables available in Tasmania was often obtainable from roadside stalls and markets, particularly apples.

Pop's Garden, An economical roadside stall in Tasmania
I also loved how many book swap cabinets there were in the parks and small towns where we travelled. This is so practical for travellers who are ready for a new book to read and are happy to swap what they have just read for a new one.  A really nice one we saw in Cygnet in Tasmania, had been built by the Men's Shed there.

 We didn't camp in Cygnet, we stayed up in the hills behind Cygnet on Jetty Road in a delightful one bedroom cabin called Kings Hill Accommodation. The owners Vicki and James made us feel at home and have decorated and fitted out the cabin beautifully. We enjoyed a wonderful couple of nights there, enjoying the pristine country air and the views.



Campsites

We camped about an hour's drive from Uluru at King's Canyon campsite. This was much more economical than staying at the resorts adjacent to Uluru. It was very hot when we were there with lots of flies annoying everyone, although we didn't succumb to the face nets like most people were wearing. Uluru was everything we expected and more.
Uluru


Needless to say we didn't take the King's Canyon Rim Walk, although 20 years ago I might have given it a go. The Kings Creek Walk doesn't lead into the canyon anymore which is disappointing because of damage from rain and landslides a couple of years ago.

The Olgas were magnificent and the walking tracks there and into the gorge were relatively easy to access. The domes of the Olgas to us were as impressive as Ayers Rock, possibly because of their accessibility.

The Olgas



There is so much more I could write about this trip however that is probably enough for now. As I work through our hundreds of photos I am sure to be inspired to share some more of our experiences with you. We were very thankful that everything went well without any dramas and that we stayed healthy. Although I did need to hunt down a dentist at Ulverstone when we were camped at Penguin, which thankfully was just down the road. I was a bit nervous about it at the time but he was excellent, and a really nice young man.

Thanks for reading and safe and enjoyable travels if you are taking to the roads.

Best wishes

Pauline.